‘Certificate of appreciation’ for Northern England Raptor Forum (NERF)

The Northern England Raptor Forum (NERF) has received a certificate of appreciation from Police Supt Nick Lyall, Chair of the Raptor Persecution Priority Delivery Group.

In an accompanying letter (read it on the NERF website here), Nick Lyall writes:

Having recently reviewed the 5 year NERF contribution to the RSPB Hen Harrier Life Project I was astounded to see that NERF members had completed nearly 15000 voluntary hours and over 150000 miles on the road to conduct their voluntary work in support of this important project.

The modest estimation would suggest that the value in kind of this contribution would be in excess of £400,000. This is a staggering commitment of both people personal time and money in order to monitor and protect endangered hen harrier.

I would therefore like you to accept this letter and the attached certificate of appreciation as a small thank you for the time effort and commitment for all of your members and volunteers“.

It’s richly deserved recognition for NERF but it only scratches the surface of its members efforts. These volunteers have been undertaking fieldwork on 23 species of raptors, owls and raven (honorary raptor) since 2006 and they’ve amassed a critically important dataset for use in conservation planning and policy.

The statutory agencies have a duty to monitor species’ population trends but they wouldn’t be able to do so without the contribution of voluntary raptor workers’ data. In Scotland, NERF’s counterpart the Scottish Raptor Study Group has estimated that its ~300 volunteers’ annual contribution is worth £1.8M (i.e. this is what it would cost SNH to replicate the SRSG’s monitoring efforts with paid ecologists).

It’s an extraordinary effort, and yet in return these fieldworkers are harassed and abused, both in the field and online. That’s why recognition such as this certificate of appreciation is so welcome.

But harassment is probably the least of their worries. If anyone is still unconvinced about how deserving NERF is of this certificate of appreciation, cast your eyes over this:

This is from page 3 of NERF’s latest Annual Review (2018). It’s the first block of text in the report and it’s a warning to NERF members that they risk serious illness (potentially fatal) should they stumble across the corpse of an illegally poisoned bird of prey as part of their monitoring efforts.

It tells you all you need to know about the ongoing persecution of birds of prey in the northern uplands as we head in to the second decade of the 21st Century.

Congratulations to NERF members – you all deserve medals. Without your efforts (and those of your colleagues in Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic) our raptors wouldn’t have so much of a fighting chance.

7 thoughts on “‘Certificate of appreciation’ for Northern England Raptor Forum (NERF)”

  1. Very well deserved and as you say other Raptor Groups contribute immensely. I believe the Warning notice should be extremely widely used in areas of suspicious wildlife deaths eg in all carparks and on footpaths.
    I believe there are dog fatalities but any statistics and any human incidents?

  2. Nice to see real conservationists being acknowledged as opposed to a shower of blow hards in tweed who get paid for what they do, pretend it’s for the benefit of wildlife and then proceed to try and slag off people whose boots they’re not good enough to lick frankly.

  3. It is excellent that Police Supt Nick Lyall has chosen to publicly thank NERF for their contribution. Truly well deserved. Some of their time and effort will have undoubtedly been in support of the RSPB nest protection as well as expertise in locating nesting birds, alongside all the other volunteers trying to protect our raptors. This has allowed the fitting of satellite tags to increase our understanding of Hen Harrier movements. This is unfinished work, because we still have insufficient knowledge of the dispersal of Hen Harriers in their second and subsequent years due to the poor survival of tagged birds. The work of NERF and other volunteers is needed as much as ever.

  4. The driven grouse shooting industry is waging chemical warfare against our wildlife, and the people who care for it, in our upland areas. It is about time our politicians stopped turning a blind eye to this outrage.

  5. Good to see Yorkshire Red Kites acknowledged as the source of the original safety instructions for the handling of possibly poisoned wildlife. They’ll be well experienced in this sort of thing – not least as they have the Nidderdale AONB in their area.

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